College is one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life. The only downside (and it’s kind of a big one) is paying for it. As most of you know, college is ridiculously expensive. There’s a bill for tuition, food, housing, books, and a million other miscellaneous items. Sometimes it feels like there’s practically a bill for breathing their air.
For those of you who are well off financially, congratulations! You likely don’t need any financial aid when it comes to paying for college. However, your parents did give up a lot to raise you and worked hard for their money, so why not look for financial aid anyways? Just to help mom and dad out. For those who aren’t as well off financially, there are many ways to get help when it comes to paying for college. You can apply for the FAFSA or other scholarships and hope for the best or you can keep your grades up and hope your school gives out a merit-based academic scholarship. Regardless of how much aid you receive and which category it’s in, there are a few things that all financial aid packages have in common: stipulations.
When you receive a scholarship letter, the first page will be a letter from the school congratulating you on your exemplary work and hoping that it’s enough aid to get you to enroll. The next page, however, is a list of stipulations, guidelines if you will, which cannot be broken if you wish to maintain your scholarship. Most of these stipulations include a minimum grade point average (GPA) and certain things you may not get caught doing.
For example, I have two merit-based scholarships from my university. One of the major stipulations for my school is to maintain a 3.00 cumulative GPA. The school board reviews my GPA at the end of every spring semester. If my GPA falls below 3.00, they give me one academic semester of probation in the following academic year to regain my scholarship. If I can’t improve it, then my scholarship is canceled. Another major stipulation is that the original enrollment deposit must be made on time in order to receive the aid. Many schools also reserve the right to take away scholarships if a student is caught doing something illegal, such as taking drugs or drinking underage.
Now, receiving a scholarship is the easy part. Keeping it is harder. With the whirlwind of adjusting to college and your newfound freedom, your cumulative GPA might not always be at the forefront of your mind. That’s perfectly okay! However, make sure you are aware of your GPA. Once a week, sit down at the computer and check your grades to make sure you aren’t in danger of losing your scholarship. If you are in danger or feel nervous about potentially being in danger, there are resources available to you.
1. Financial Advisor
Most schools have many different types of advisors to help make your journey through that university smooth and successful. One of these advisors is a financial advisor. They can help you determine how you will pay for tuition and can give you the details of your financial aid package. If you’re worried about the repercussions of a crappy test grade, then set up a meeting with your advisor. They’ll help reassure you you’re on the right path.
If you feel like you’re falling behind or are too close to the GPA cutoff mark, enlist the help of a tutor. One of the differences between high school and college is that there are many kinds of tutors. You can get one of your friends to tutor you in a shared class or meet with the teaching assistant. You can even meet with the professors themselves during their office hours to ask for help. If you wanted something more laid back, most universities have a center designed to help students do better in their classes. Check the help center out and get help from either a fellow classmate who works there or from one of the experienced employees. Whatever you’re comfortable with, there is some form of tutoring that will suit you.
This resource is rather out of the box, but if you’re feeling anxious over maintaining your scholarship, you can always talk to the school counselor. Most schools provide free counseling for all students who wish to take part. Talking to someone who isn’t a friend and genuinely cares about your well-being can give you a fresh perspective and help reduce your worry. It may seem a little drastic, but talking to a stranger can help a lot.
Now this is a very drastic measure, but if for some reason you feel like you were treated unfairly or that you really desperately need the money, you can appeal the school board’s decision to revoke your scholarship. An appeal is usually a process that allows you to submit a written report detailing the incident and includes a review by the school board. If the appeal is returned in your favor, your scholarship will be returned.
While you must be aware of the guidelines of your scholarship, it should not take away from your college experience. Be cognizant of your GPA but don’t feel the need to obsess over it every second of the day. There are resources available to help you. If you feel you need help, take advantage of those resources. Remember, the faculty and staff at your university want you to succeed. Good luck!